Nov 20, 2010

What Exactly are You Doing, Katelyn?

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..." Ecclesiastes 9:10

So what type of missionary am I? What do I do?

Good question.

I’m not really a teacher. I don’t work in an orphanage. I’m not an assistant in a hospital. For that matter I have no boss telling me what to do from day to day. So what do I do?

Whatever God prompts me to do.
Living and working here fits my personality so incredibly well. Everything is different from day to day. I talk and visit with people. I sing and speak and help with services. I play with children. I plan events. I live and I talk and I act as I believe God would have me live and talk and act. It’s definitely a ministry of presence, but that doesn’t mean I sit around doing nothing all day. I’m amazed with how much I do with my days here. I would not recommend my situation to those who thrive on routine or schedules or well defined roles and guidelines. But for me, it’s great!
Let me give you a glimpse of what I do.
This week we mourned the loss of a church member in a neighboring barangi. Here, funerals (called necrological services) are a big deal. They are weeklong or more affairs with a service happening at the family’s house every night. We went 3 nights to pay our respects, 17 of us piling into the IHSA van.
The First Night
More decoration was added
on subsequent nights
My very first time in the Philippines (my very first night, in fact) I went to a necrological service, so I knew what to expect. But it can be quite the shock for a westerner. The deceased is embalmed right after death and placed in a casket with a glass coving and a wooden lid. A sort of memorial is created around the casket in the family home. So when you arrive, you come and sit inside the house, right next to the body—and try to act like you can’t see it (you get used to it, though). Then you sing songs altogether, pray, have a special music, and someone gives a short talk. Then there’s a final song, a prayer, and the snacks come out for everyone to enjoy. That’s how it goes every night. A candle is lit constantly during the whole length of the necro, which can last up to weeks if many people come from all over to pay their respects. We spent a lot of time participating in the services this week.

Our Jeepney From Afar

Yesterday we had a bit of an adventure. We made the trek to the church in Adams, a mountainous town about an hour and a half’s drive away from Pagudpud Central. I’d never been there before, so I was excited to go. I’d also never ridden in a jeepney before, so I was even more excited. We’ve been wanting to go for a while, but the road to get there is very rough and especially treacherous during rainy season. Even though it had been decently dry for a while, we still rode through a fair amount of water. There were at least 3 waterfalls that incorporated our road into their routes. It was quite an adventurous trip. Good conversation with new friends made it even more enjoyable.

The Bridge
Unfortunately, we had other appointments to keep and had to go back after just a few hours of worship and fellowship with the members there. We’re planning on going back later and spending the night. That way we can do some more hiking up there. But oh, how beautiful it is up there. It is so quiet and peaceful, lacking the hustle and bustle of living in a central town. The church rests in a dip in the peaks, which means you can turn every which way and see the green mountains touching the sky. It is so gorgeous and beckons for quests into the wilderness. We are undoubtedly going back. We did have a slight bit of questing though. On the way back, we took a suspended foot bridge across a river. It wasn’t as frightening as I had supposed it would be, but it was a thrill nonetheless.
There you go—a small snapshot of what life is like here. Who knows what this next week will bring. Every day is different, every moment an adventure. Sometimes I wonder if I should be doing something more. But then I go play with the neighborhood kids and sing “Jesus Love is A-Bubblin’ Over,” and I’m more than satisfied.

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